Opening “Cabinet of Curiosities,” the filmmaker Guillermo del Toro’s oversize new book, is akin to bouncing around inside his hallucinatory brain. In addition to densely illustrated pages from notebooks for movies like “Hellboy” and “Pan’s Labyrinth,” it also includes pictures of Bleak House, where del Toro works and stores hundreds of artworks, figurines and props. “Catholics go to church, Jews go to temple,” del Toro writes. “I come here.”
A giant bust of Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s monster hangs over a foyer. Most disconcertingly, a lifelike full-size sculpture of H. P. Lovecraft stands in a library, angrily looking up from a book as if you’ve interrupted him.
In an email interview, del Toro said that he started keeping notebooks in his 20s, and that sharing them with readers is an extension of his commentaries on DVDs. “I wanted to open my process a little bit more,” he said. “Dick Smith, Ray Harryhausen, Hitchcock, many of my idols had an open process and inspired me.” He hopes aspiring filmmakers will learn to “embrace your passions wholeheartedly, obsessively, and enshrine images, collect them and study them as a code.”
In “Cabinet of Curiosities,” del Toro says he will pass the sketchbooks on to his daughters: “I want them to understand that being a grown-up is not being boring. It’s being alive.” But the children’s deeper appreciation may have to wait. According to del Toro, “they find my drawings absolutely reprehensible and horrible.”
— John Williams, New York Times